Alison Wylie
University of British Columbia
I’m often asked why, as a philosopher of science, I study archaeology. Philosophy is so abstract and intellectual, and archaeology is such an earth-bound, data-driven enterprise, what could the connection possibly be? This puzzlement takes a number of different forms. In one memorable exchange in the late 1970s when I was visiting Oxford as a graduate student an elderly don, having inquired politely about my research interests, tartly observed that archaeology isn’t a science, so I couldn’t possibly be writing a dissertation in philosophy of science on archaeology. At job interviews a few years later a standard opening gambit was to ask: “so what’s philosophical about the work you do on archaeology” or, more querulously, “what could possibly be of philosophical interest in archaeology”? And from archaeologists, weary of the “theory wars” that raged through 1980s and 1990s, the standard question was, “What’s the point?! Better to step away from the wrangling about philosophical ‘isms’ and get on with the empirical work that needs doing.”
Keywords Philosophy of archaeology  archaeology  philosophy of science
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A Material Theory of Induction.John D. Norton - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (4):647-670.
Critical Distance : Stabilising Evidential Claims in Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2011 - In Philip Dawid, William Twining & Mimi Vasilaki (eds.), Evidence, Inference and Enquiry. Oup/British Academy.
Archaeology as Anthropology.L. Binford - 1962 - In M. Leone (ed.), Contemporary Archaeology. Southern Illinois University. pp. 93-101.
The.Richard A. Watson - 1967 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 5 (1).

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